Arizona Diamondbacks (35-37)
@ San Diego Padres(35-40)
How young are the Diamondbacks compared to the Padres? I compared the go-to starting lineups and the five starting pitchers. In each position, the Diamondbacks were younger with two exceptions - catcher and left fielder. On average, the Diamondbacks were 2.8 years younger. That gap is huge! Young players who play at their peak can often best their elders!
At what age do players reach their peak? Prospect development has improved, so they reach their peak at an earlier age. This Fangraph article explains that pitchers reach their peak at age 26, and batters even younger. The Diamondbacks are near their peak with an average age of 26.2. The Padres are on the downward slide of the aging curve with an average age of 29.0.
What’s new with the aging Padres? On 15 June, Bud Black was replaced with an interim manager Dave Roberts. On 16 June Pat Murphy was named interim manager for the remainder of the season. Pat Murphy will shake things up! "His way of doing things can be seen as unorthodox." "He can be fiery at times." Has Murphy made an impact? In the nine games before Roberts & Murphy, they had a win-loss record of 4-5 with 33 runs scored and 37 runs allowed. In the nine games days after Murphy, they had a win-loss record of 3-6 with 33 runs scored and 56 runs allowed. If Murphy made an impact, the numbers show it was a negative impact.
And how has Chip Hale done? This season he has a win-loss record of 35-37 with 324 runs scored and 329 runs allowed. Going from last in the majors to the slope of mount 500 is major challenge well met. Because humility is a virtue, please let me point out that he ranks near the bottom (twenty-fifth) in this Hardball Talk article that ranks handsomeness of major league managers.
Will you let me define a dangerous hitter as having OPS+ above the Trumbo line (his 2015 OPS+ of 114 as a Diamondback)? Now that we have our mark in the sand, the Diamondbacks have three dangerous hitters – Paul Goldschmidt, Welington Castillo, and A.J. Pollock. There would have been more, except that Yasmany Tomas and Jake Lamb recently dipped just below the line. Those five hitters are awesome! How do the Padres compare? They have five dangerous hitters – Yonder Alonso, Justin Upton, Wil Meyers, Clint Barmes and Brett Wallace (based on 5 plate appearances). Though Wil Meyers is on the DL for this series, Will Venable is barely below the Trumbo line. The two teams are about evenly matched in dangerous hitters!
In the last two weeks, the Deserved Run Average (DRA) improved for Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa, and Robbie Ray(barely). Robbie Ray retains the top spot. Let’s look at the current five starting pitchers’ DRAs and ERAs.
|Rubby De La Rosa||4.05||4.69|
Let’s look at the pitching matchups.
Friday. Robbie Ray(2.70 DRA, 1.78 ERA) vs Tyson Ross(3.26 DRA, 3.61 ERA).
On 20 June, Tyson Ross pitched a complete game with 1 earned run against the Diamondbacks. On Wednesday, the Padres added two relievers to the roster. Kevin Quackenbush was recalled, and Marcos Mateo's contract was purchased. Will Tyson Ross let the Diamondbacks test the bullpen changes?
Robbie Ray has pitched five games this season - three were quality starts and two were close - 5 innings with zero earned runs, and 5.2 innings with 3 earned runs. Robbie Ray is consistent and his DRA is much better than Tyson Ross. I predict the Diamondbacks win this game!
Saturday. Jeremy Hellickson(4.88 DRA, 4.94 ERA) vs Andrew Cashner(5.48 DRA, 4.35 ERA).
The Diamondbacks have faced Andrew Cashner three times this season. Diamondbacks won all three games! Over those three games, Cashner allowed five earned runs and allowed eight un-earned runs.Will un-earned runs again help the Diamondbacks?
Hellickson has improved - he had zero quality starts in his first seven games, and then six quality starts in the next seven games! In his last start he had a hit-by-pitch RBI and later "tweeked" his back. He had a bullpen session Wednesday, and is expected to start this game.
Sunday. Chase Anderson(3.57 DRA, 3.54 ERA) vs Odrisamer Despaigne(4.66 DRA, 4.83 ERA).
Although Odrisamer Despaigne is getting better as the season progresses, he has been inconsistent against the Diamondbacks, allowing between 1 and 8 earned runs per game. Will Chase Anderson bounce back from his start against the Rockies? Will Chase Anderson show why he is the go-to pitcher for the Diamondbacks?
Recent Impact Players
In the last two weeks, the Diamondbacks continue to win close games. Chase Anderson bested Madison Bumgarner by pitching 7 innings with no earned runs allowed. Alan Webster took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and completed 5.2 innings with 2 earned runs allowed. Andrew Chafin and Daniel Hudson each did not allow inherited runners to score while pitching 1.1 innings with zero earned runs. In a close game against the Giants, Ender Inciarte's RBI was the only run of the game, which scored Wellington Castillo who had 3 hits that game. In a close game against the Angels, Tomas had an RBI triple, and a total of 3 hits and 1 stolen base. In a close game against the Rockies, Paul Goldschmidt had a 2 RBI home run.
Special recognition was earned in two games. In the 14 June game against the Giants, Rubby De La Rosa pitched 8 innings with zero earned runs. In the 15 June game against the Angels, Robbie Ray pitched 7 innings with zero earned runs while Paul Goldschmidt hit 3 RBIs.
Based on wins so far, and projecting future games based on runs scored and allowed the Diamondbacks are on pace for 79.4 wins this season. I will stick with my optimistic prediction of 78 wins this season.
In two weeks I will relook at this projection. Meanwhile, the upcoming series against the Padres will be well worth watching, and I predict our Diamondbacks will win two games.
Food of the Series
First eaten in the late 1800s (some claim much earlier), each region of Mexico developed its own unique taco. Two amazing tacos are De Cabeza (with cow tongue, lips, eyes, and brain) and Al Pastor (slow cooked pork with chilies, spices, and pineapple). For the less adventurous, fish tacos are wonderful.
Unique and different tacos evolved in America. In 1905, a group of street vendors named Chili Queens of San Antonia served tacos. A newspaper said the tacos were "biting like a serpent," which tells me they were spicy hot. In the 1940s, patents were issued for making taco shells in a U-shape and frying them until crispy. This innovation made tacos fun to eat and increased their popularity. Jumping to today, a further increase in popularity was achieved by awarding baseball fans free tacos whenever their team scored a specified minimum number of runs. I will be happy beyond my norm when the Diamondbacks score 5 runs or more every game this series!